INTERVIEW #003 - Helena Gallardo
What’s your story with electronic music? What are your main influences ?
My first contact with electronics was thanks to my father. He wanted to teach me the love for music in general, regardless of the different genres. Among classical music vinyls he used to play: “Tangerine Dream, Isao Tomita, Alan Parson Project, Vangelis, Kraftwerk” to name a few. And from there in one form or another, music has always been linked to my life (perhaps in a way sometimes obsessive) until today.
The influences aren’t only electronic music. I’d like many styles, from classics like: “Claude Debussy, Puccini, György Ligeti” to post-punk and new wave: “Joy Division, The Sound, Bauhaus » and jazz: « Miles Davis, John Coltane, etc…”
And not only music is influencing my work. I could speak of art; most of the vanguard movements such as Dadaism, Surrealism: « Man Ray, Munch, Dali… ». Of course also cinema and specially from the 20s: « Metropolis, Nosferatu ». And science fiction and horror film from all eras. I could really spend a whole interview only dedicated to discuss these features.
- You are running your own imprint « Silent Signal ». Let’s first talk about its artistic concept : « silence can transmit the same feelings or even more than notes, voices or basses »…
The absence of sound is one of the deepest feelings we can feel. In music the use of silence is essential; as a break in a succession of sounds is nice. And after a moment of silence, a tension chord is incredible. Beyond these technical concepts, Silent Signal is that moment of communion with the inner silence, where we are able to discern the signal. The artist in his creative process, which searches inside, and generally works alone, is able to hear the signal at the right time. No matter that it is surrounded by noise, there is always an inner silence.
- Besides your two high quality techno releases, what mainly caught our attention is the committed philosophy of your label against commercial dogmas that pollutes the electronic music scene.
I think that the essence is missed, and they are a minority of composers, which give more importance to the artistic research, the concept and the creative process than to the music business and the many banalities that is surrounding this scene. I’d like that all artists who are part of this project, have concerns and something to say beyond doing this to be « cool ».
Moreover, you are collaborating with some social aid projects by donating a part of the releases’ profits. This approach deserves our greatest respect. Where did this idea come from?
Just seeing this superficiality about the techno world that I commented before. I wanted to prove that electronic music could dissociate of this bad image, and demonstrate that music is above this nonsense. I thought that we could help making things better at our level. The artists involved in each reference decide themselves in which aid project they donate the benefits.
- Are other techno artists sensitive to this concept?
At the moment, all artists that I’ve asked to collaborate with the label (Tadeo, Staffan Linzatti, Plastika, Fernando Vicente), loved the idea from the beginning. I will always be grateful for this. There are more people than you think who wants to help. The main challenge is to channel all that energy.
- I guess it is a long hard way until having your label built. What were the main issues encountered during this adventure ?
The issues that I found (and I still have) are time and money. This is an ongoing battle. Choosing to release on vinyl has a cost: manufacturing, distribution, etc. But despite the effort and headaches, we worth keep fighting. In this regard, I am thankful to Alessio from K1971, who has greatly facilitated my work as a distributor.
- The first EP on Silent Signal is entitled « Love and Death ». How far those two are linked ?
The title here is everything to me. I started to compose this track when my father was sick. I wanted to express all the love I had for him and that I have never been able to express in words. I knew that his end was near, but unfortunately I didn’t finish it on time. The idea of the label came up because I wanted to publish this theme in the form of a tribute, and I couldn’t let this track go out elsewhere. Love is the energy that goes beyond states as life or death.
- On the second release you collaborated with two of the most interesting techno artists at the moment (spanish Cyclicaltracks owner Tadeo and swedish Searchlights rec owner Staffan Linzatti). Why these two?
I admire a lot the work of these two great artists. Their musical style and message were perfect for what I wanted to capture in « Calypso EP ». I try to put coherence in all the work and I think in this case Tadeo and Staffan spoke the same language.
- The artwork of « love and death », made by the spanish artist Fernando Vicente is very intriguing. How did you collaborate?
I wanted the label not to focus only on music, transforming every vinyl in a small piece of art. I give much importance to the artwork. Concerning the collaboration itself, I just send the music with the concept to the designer, as inspiration for his work. It was the same for the Calypso EP artwork with the artist Plastika.
- What kind of setup do you use for your productions ?
I mainly use Logic as a sequencer. Sometimes I use Ableton Live. I mix VST and pluggins with devices such as Motif or real percussions of Yamaha, depending on the needs of the track.
- You are a sound engineer. How far is this influencing your creativity?
Being a sound engineer makes me think too much when I produce! I lose a lot of time on small details sometimes inaudible.
- We noticed that more and more female artists are into techno. Do you think this is bringing a female sensitivity to the genre ?
Techno doesn’t know about genres. In this type of questions I don’t believe in sensitivities, only in ideas, sometimes better, sometimes worse but regardless of the gender.
- You host a radio show called genesis on Vicious Radio together with Tadeo. What’s the concept behind this show? And how did this collaboration start ?
It’s an imaginary space project, which relates the journey of the GENESIS mission exploring different and diverse ways to understand electronic music. Tadeo and I spent years working together in « Javha Studios » in Madrid and made a good team together. We have similar criteria in music, so the idea if genesis emerged in a natural way.
- What do you think about the techno scene in Madrid and Spain in general ?
After years of crisis, the scene in my country is growing. I can talk about Madrid in particular, because it’s my hometown. High quality music is played and produced here! Thanks to clubs like « Cassette », which has highly promoted the techno in Madrid, we can enjoy performances by young artists from here as Psyk, Sabino Gonzalez, Svreca, Aiken, Kwartz …